Tenth Circuit Sides with Staffing Agency in ADA Case

Failing to be present at work or give the employer an expected duration of impairment made a temp’s request unreasonable ‘as a matter of law’

A staffing agency got a win at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last month over a failure-to-accommodate claim. But the seemingly rare appellate opinion, which deals with reasonable accommodations for temporary workers, also contained some eyebrow-raising analysis for employers in general — not just those that employ temps.

On July 6, the 10th Circuit issued an employer-friendly ruling that addressed some key issues in reasonable accommodations as they pertain to temporary workers. Specifically, the court found in Punt v. Kelly Services; GE Controls Solutions that the plaintiff’s request to not come to work for a week was unreasonable as a matter of law because physical presence could be considered an essential function of her job as a receptionist.

Staffing agency Kelly Services as-signed Kristin Punt to fill a receptionist position at GE Controls Solutions in late 2011. Shortly after she began working at GE, Punt was diagnosed with breast cancer. In six weeks at GE, Punt recorded six absences, three of them being for medical appointments. She then emailed her contact at Kelly saying that based on her doctor’s recommendation, she wasn’t going to come in to work for a week so she could receive additional tests and radiation treatments.

GE then contacted Kelly and requested they end Punt’s assignment and send another receptionist “that’s going to be able to show up and fulfill the needs of the position,” according to the 10th Circuit opinion.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the August 14, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.